Plaintiffs, R Bend Estates II, LLC (“R Bend”), Pierre Gaudin, and John Treme, filed a federal civil action against St. John the Baptist Parish and the St. John the Baptist Parish Council. According to the Plaintiffs, the Defendants, on more than one occasion, arbitrarily and capriciously refused to issue to them appropriate zoning permits, which prevented Plaintiffs from developing property they own or control in St. John the Baptist Parish. The Plaintiffs alleged violations of: the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 4, of the Louisiana Constitution; and the due process and equal protection guarantees in both the United States Constitution and the Louisiana Constitution.
As to the Takings claim, Plaintiffs conceded their property had not been taken but argued they were denied special-use permits such that they are unable to develop their property. Plaintiffs also conceded they “have not availed themselves [of] state court proceedings for compensation in an inverse condemnation action.” As a result, Plaintiffs’ claims under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 4, of the Louisiana Constitution for failing to issue special-use permits, and thereby denying Plaintiffs the ability to use and develop their property, were found not ripe for consideration in federal court and were dismissed without prejudice.
The court next noted that that Plaintiffs’ procedural due process claims alleged deprivations “ancillary to” or “arising from” their takings claims; thus, the court could not determine whether the plaintiff suffered any injury until the takings claims were adjudicated. Moreover, the Plaintiffs failed to pursue an inverse condemnation action in state court. As such, these procedural due process claims were also found unripe.
Plaintiffs lastly alleged in their Complaint that “[t]he zoning ordinances and regulations in effect are being interpreted and enforced against plaintiffs in a manner that is arbitrary and capricious and in a manner differently than interpreted and enforced against other citizens in the same or similar circumstances within the Parish.” Here, because Plaintiffs’ allegations appeared to concern rights and privileges not protected by the Takings Clause, the court found Plaintiffs’ substantive due process and equal protection claims were not subsumed by their unripe takings claims. The court did note, however, that Plaintiffs’ substantive due process and equal protection claims may be vulnerable to dismissal by summary judgment, as they were largely unsupported by factual assertions.
R Bend Estates II, LLC v St. John the Baptist Parish, 2016 WL 4087490 (E.D. LA 8/2/2016)